West Virginia Introduces School Breakfast Program To Improve Youth Education, Diet

West Virginia lawmakers have passed a bill requiring all of the state’s public schools to provide school lunches to each classroom.

Mason County, West Virginia started the trend. In this southwestern county, which borders Ohio, entire classrooms walk to the cafeteria to eat breakfast together, not drastically unlike eating lunch.

“They do it as a classroom and they’re eating with their buddies, and it makes it more of like a family atmosphere,” Cristi Rulen, the food service director for Mason County’s 10 schools, told the Associated Press. “Our discipline is down, our attendance is up. It has its advantages.”

The school breakfast program tackles two of West Virginia’s key problems. The state’s public education is ranked among the worst in the nation and nearly a third of its high school students are obese. A healthy, daily breakfast improves diet by providing a healthy supplement or replacement of sugary alternatives such as popular cereal and toaster pastries. It improves education by combating hunger and aiding concentration.

West Virginia is the only state to exist entirely within Appalachia, a region generally plagued by poorer communities. The state is covered by coal mines and farms familiar to inhabitants of the region.

West Virginia’s school breakfast bill mandates that no West Virginia student ever be denied a meal because of cost. Lawmakers require schools to collect private donations that have to be used directly for food, as opposed to salaries or administrative costs. The money can be used to buy healthy foods and to fund a summer food program.

Schools receive money from the federal government for every meal served, ranging from 50 cents to $3 per meal depending on the income of the student’s parents. The more meals served, the more money received, and lawmakers want West Virginia schools to take full advantage of federal funds.

West Virginia’s school breakfast program was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

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